| Dario urops (left) and Pristolepis rubripinnis
Zoologists have reported the discovery of two new fish species unknown to science from rivers in Kerala and southern Karnataka, and one of them seems geographically separated from its cousin species in the Northeast.
The freshwater fish, Dario urops, was found in a small tributary of the Valapattanam river in Karnataka and from Wayanad district in Kerala. The other fish, Pristolepis rubripinnis, has been observed in the Pamba and Chalakudy rivers in Kerala, the researchers said.
Dario urops is a yellowish beige fish with bluish-gray fins, about 3cm in length and has a conspicuous black blotch, or eyespot, near its tail fin, and Pristolepis rubripinnis is olive green with yellowish green marks on its head, and has a head to tail length of 9cm.
Researchers Anvar Ali, Siby Philip and Fabian Baby from St Albert’s College, Cochin, Krishna Kumar from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore, and their collaborator Ralf Britz, a fish zoologist from the Natural History Museum, London, UK, described the two species this week in the journal Zootaxa.
“These discoveries show that our knowledge of the ichthyofauna of the Western Ghats is still limited,” said Rajeev Raghavan, an ichthyologist working on Western Ghat fish, but who was not among the co-authors of the two papers.
Scientists are surprised at finding Dario urops in southern peninsular India. The fish belongs to the family called Badidae and 19 species from this family are found across northeastern India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
“There are no rivers directly connecting the fish in the north to southern Indian rivers, so finding a species whose relatives are only in the Northeast has immense biogeographical significance,” Raghavan told The Telegraph. “The reasons for this disjunct distribution of this family needs to be examined further.”